Photo of 1951 from the Familia Nazario collection provided by GeoIsla.com
Aereal photo of 2018 (by Reniet Ramirez Rivera)
La Guaira was the first shantytown of the town that began to develop in the early 1900s. There is much confusion about the origins of this shantytown as many believe that it existed since the times of the foundation (1825). Long before that there was the housing area of La Pica (see area 5 of the following image) and other flat areas downtown (see areas 2, 3 and 4 of the following image). The oldest evidence of any structure (house or ranch) in La Guaira hill is from 1884 [see photo below]. Still we can’t confirm if they were homes or ranches. The photos where you begin to see many homes on the hill are from the early 1900s. This makes us think that the change of sovereignty in 1898 had something to do with the fact that these lands could now be populated …. or it is a simple coincidence.
IMPORTANCE OF THIS HILL
This hill was particularly famous because of its people. The little evidence we have been able to find, including municipal records of 1875-1900, suggests (ONLY A THEORY) that most likely in downtown Orocovis, under the Spanish regime (1825-1898), lived mainly wealthy people or of important positions in the municipality and that the rest of the inhabitants (or the majority) lived in the outskirts of the town and other neighborhoods. Then, at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, these inhabitants of the outskirts began to live in La Guaira hill, creating a better balance. The people of La Guaira are credited for giving much more life to the town and being the birthplace of great people like our master wood carver Celestino Avilés Meléndez. The song, written by Tato Irlanda, is such a good description of La Guaira that we used it as a continuation of the Spanish version of this article:
LA GUAIRA: 1979 – PRESENT
At the end of the 1970s, for reasons of safety and health, the hill stops being a shantytown and is returned to its original state at the time of the foundation. To maintain its value it became a passive park; a tourist attraction. Years later, due to lack of proper maintenance, this attraction gradually lost its charm. However, after Hurricane Maria, it has been awakening the interest on several people and entities to return the charm to this hill.